BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Rick Martin's hockey legacy was sealed the day he retired from the NHL in 1982. His off-ice legacy of friendship, approachability, and good-natured humor was built in the 30 years that followed when he lived here, in Buffalo.
It was a dramatic spin of the wheel that brought Gilbert Perreault to Buffalo in 1970, and a routine first-round draft pick that brought Rick Martin to the Sabres a year later. The two had already forged a friendship in junior hockey in Montreal.
Perreault recalled, "Played two years with him with the Montreal Junior Canadiens. We had two Memorial Cups during those years. Started in Buffalo, I was a first pick in Buffalo. Rick came a year after in '71."
When the Sabres picked up Rene Robert in a trade, the French Connection was born. And Martin was the sniper, the pure goal scorer with one of the best shots in the game.
Former Sabres teammate Mike Robitaille remembered, "The thing about scoring goals, would always just overcome them. From the blue line in, he was just almost unstoppable."
Those who knew him best knew Martin to be a fierce competitor, especially in his two passions: hockey and golf.
"He loved hockey that much. I mean, he would join the practices, during the game he was working very hard to score goals. He really wanted to score goals. Of course, in golf, he's a hockey player, but he's one of the best golfers I've seen. He had a lot of passion for those two sports," said Perreault.
Sabres equipment manager Rip Simonick said, "He worked at everything. He worked at his sticks, he worked at his golf game, he worked at his friendships, and that's the way I remember Rick."
Perreault added, "Of course, the last time I step on the ice three weeks ago with the new owner, Mr. Pegula, I will cherish that moment because this is the last time we're on the ice together."
Perreault was very emotional when News 4 spoke with him on Monday, but many everyday Sabres fans are emotional as well. Martin had a way of touching those he met, even those who were in awe of his hockey talent and his star status. After his playing days were over, he made his home here and walked among us, making friends at every step with his smile, his jokes and his smack on the back.
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